With the rise of the Internet and its easy access right at our fingertips on our mobile devices, there has never been an easier time to teach yourself something new. You can download an app on your phone that helps improve your Spanish or you can listen to an audiobook on your commute to work. Online learning has never been more popular now thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. There are thousands of online courses promising to make you an expert in that specific field.
Online learning is an accessible and efficient form of education and definitely one that we would recommend. But just because you’ve learned how something works doesn’t mean that you should now do it yourself. Some things should be left to professionals.
You wouldn’t remove your own wisdom teeth just because you can read how on the Internet – you’d rely on a trained oral surgeon who has years of education and experience. For the same reason, you shouldn’t try to teach yourself SEO and apply its principles to your business.
SEO Takes More Time Than You Think
A successful SEO campaign takes time and money and you want to make sure you get a solid return on your investments. Working with a trained, experienced professional SEO consultant is much more likely to provide you with a positive return for many reasons. Reading everything you can online about a subject won’t help you learn without regular action to build firsthand experience, especially for hands-on, technical subjects.
To run a successful SEO campaign, you will first have to invest the time teaching yourself the fundamentals of SEO and only after that will you be able to apply them to your own business. There are a ton of helpful DIY SEO tools and SEO software on the market like Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz Pro, and others, but you’ll also have to teach yourself how each individual tool works in order to use them correctly. These research tools are not always the best resource if you aren’t already technically proficient.
All of this learning takes up a lot of time that you could be spending on your business. With SEO, it isn’t even enough to just take an online course and call it a day. SEO is constantly changing and it is important to keep tabs on the regular updates and changes made by popular search engines like Google and Bing. Do you think you have time to do all of this and run a business?
An SEO consultant has the experience and education that you don’t have. They have made mistakes and dealt with many different issues, making SEO consultants much better at troubleshooting and problem solving. An SEO consultation is also able to make recommendations on what aspects of the SEO process your business should focus on, based on their previous experience.
How to Choose Between DIY SEO and Hiring an SEO Consultant
If you already know about SEO and have the time to devote to supporting your SEO processes, you may be able to slowly get your business to rank better. But it may take some time, most likely much longer than if you were to hire a consultant, as you have to do the work alone while having to spend time on other aspects of your business. If your competitors are investing in outside SEO experts, your efforts may not stand a chance against theirs despite your hard work.
Choosing whether to DIY SEO or hire an SEO consultant will depend on factors including:
- Your industry
- Your desired results from your SEO campaign
- Your budget
- How soon you need to see results (your time frame)
Once you’ve determined these factors, you can decide what option will work for you.
Your Industry Matters
Your industry matters because it might be harder for an SEO consultant to grasp. A crucial part of SEO strategy is content creation. Content, like blog posts, enables websites to appear for search keywords that prospective clients are using. By creating content targeting these keywords and topics, a website can improve its keyword rankings and increase organic traffic or visitors from search engines. This is a major reason why you will find blogs on many major company websites.
This means you need someone to create content for your website. That someone could be you, a freelance writer, or even an SEO consultant. If your industry is complex, then an SEO consultant without insight or experience in your industry may have a difficult time producing valuable content for your prospective customers. It is always important to ask about a potential consultant’s experience in your industry before hiring them. There may even be SEO consultants and content marketers that specialize in your field.
If you have the budget for it, hiring an SEO consultant is often the best choice. Their only job is to work on SEO campaigns and they will dedicate a majority of their time and resources to your business. An SEO consultant is a freelancer that helps businesses rank higher in search engines. They have an in-depth understanding of the digital landscape and provide guidance and services that improve your business’ online visibility.
Freelance SEO consultants can usually be hired on an hourly, monthly or one-time fee. You are also not required to commit on a long-term basis. SEO consultants focus only on SEO so you should see results almost immediately. An external SEO consultant can also amplify the efforts of your internal team (if you have one) or work on their own to improve the major areas that need optimizing.
Your Desired Results
When you work with an outside SEO professional or team, they have all the knowledge necessary. But they won’t automatically know your business. That’s the only downside. It might take some time for them to get to know your business inside and out – making it slightly more challenging.
The benefit is that they do SEO every day, so they are experienced and know exactly how to best optimise your website and campaigns. So the rate you pay for their expertise will be worthwhile.
Some businesses may choose to hire a full-time, in-house SEO expert to handle their SEO needs. These full-time employees only focus on optimizing your website and improving its rankings. The main benefit to this is that you can start seeing results almost immediately. With an in-house, full-time SEO expert, you will also be able to have an expert on your team with good knowledge of your products or services.
Hiring a full-time, in-house SEO expert will cost you significantly more than a freelance consultant and requires a long-term commitment. According to Indeed, the average SEO expert in the United States makes $76,000 a year. Many small business owners can’t even afford to pay themselves that, let alone an employee.
If your budget is your main concern, try hiring an SEO consultant on a part-time basis to start. This gives you the time you need as a small business owner to focus on your own business and your customer base. Remember that when you hire someone on a part-time basis, it may take longer to see results as they will spend less time on your optimization than someone working full-time. It is also important to note that results from SEO can take at least 3 months before you can see improvements in traffic or visitors and conversions.
As your business grows, you should be able to afford a more full-time commitment with your SEO consultant. You will definitely want to after seeing the returns you receive from even a part-time commitment to working with an SEO consultant. Hiring someone on a part-time basis may still be a better option than having to do your own SEO as you need to spend time on other areas of your business.
You should only try to DIY your SEO when you really don’t have any funds available to hire someone else. SEO requires a lot of time and effort to learn and then carry out its various processes. SEO is also an on-going process that never stops. As your business scales, will you have the time to focus on SEO? Achieving great rankings is an amazing feat, but keeping them is just as challenging.
How to Hire an SEO Consultant
We can’t stress enough the importance of hiring an SEO consultant who knows what they are doing. This is why you need to be especially thorough during your hiring process when it comes to researching and vetting each candidate.
One vital question to ask any potential SEO candidate is ‘What link-building strategies do you use?’ Link building is a key component to SEO. You may have heard the term “backlinks” in your SEO research. When a webpage links to any other page, it is called a backlink. A page with a lot of backlinks will rank higher on major search engines.
Because of this, some SEO consultants manipulate search results by creating something called link farms. Link farms are groups of websites that all link to other sites in the group for the purpose of increasing SEO rankings. These websites are usually poor quality with little to no useful content.
Because of this, links from low-quality websites like those within link farms are now penalized by search engines. Link farms are an example of what’s commonly referred to as Black Hat SEO, a practice against search engine guidelines, used to get a site ranking higher in search results.
You also want to make sure your SEO candidates can speak about internal link building practices that promote your key product pages and target keywords. Internal link building is essential for site navigation and the best SEOs will know how to build links successfully.
Other important questions to ask before hiring include:
- Can they show a portfolio and/or proof of previous results with other clients?
- Have they had experience working for businesses in your industry?
- Can they give you a brief overview of their approach?
- Do they use social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube channel, etc.) in their strategy?
- Do you have experience using content management systems (Ie. WordPress)?
- Are they up-to-date with the latest algorithm and what is their strategy?
- When do they really expect to start seeing results?
- What analytics do you use to monitor results? (ie. Google Analytics)
- What metrics do you focus on when looking at results?
- How do they communicate? Do they send reports, and if so, how often?
- How often do they perform SEO audits?
The Bottom Line: Your SEO Decisions Depend on Your Business
The low cost of DIY SEO is a trade-off. Yes, you’ll avoid the costs of hiring a professional, but you’ll also forego a lot of expertise. Without that expertise, your business could lose out on a lot of revenue. Professional SEO consultants can optimize your site in a way that supports and enables true business growth.
Effective search engine optimization is time-consuming and launching an SEO campaign is no small initiative. If you divide your time between running your business and optimizing your site, you’ll inevitably end up neglecting important tasks in one of those two areas.
DIY SEO is rarely effective, and making a poor decision when hiring an expert can be both expensive and detrimental. If the person you hire decides to employ Black Hat SEO tactics, Google will take harsh action against your site, applying manual penalties which will plummet your rankings and potentially remove your site from search altogether.
Finding the right SEO consultant for your business does take time and effort, not to mention that the expense of an SEO consultant may seem exorbitant at first. However, with the right SEO consultant, your due diligence and smart investments will pay off in the end with increased rankings on search engine results pages and a boost in business revenue.